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Amazon Fire TV Stick review: A cheap, quick, and dirty path to Prime Instant Video

Jared Newman | Dec. 4, 2014
No disrespect to the full-sized Fire TV that Amazon launched last April, but the Fire TV Stick is the media-streamer that the online giant should have released in the first place.

Bugs to burn

As I mentioned earlier, I hope Amazon goes on a bug hunt between now and January 15 when it resumes shipping the Fire TV Stick. I've mentioned a few issues already; here are some others:

  • The Fire TV Stick established a solid connection only to my wireless router's 5GHz network. It connected "with problems" to the router's 2.4 GHz network, which is more crowded but delivers longer range. None of my other streaming devices exhibit this issue.
  • The remote control is finicky. Sometimes it fails to register button presses; other times, a single button press repeats many times in a row.
  • The remote-control app for Android failed to recognize any of my voice searches on a Nexus 6.
  • You can't browse Prime Music playlists or genre stations directly from the Fire TV Stick. You can add playlists from another device, but I had problems getting them to sync right away.

I've come to expect these kinds of issues from version 1.0 products, but that doesn't make it right. Manufacturers shouldn't punish early adopters. If you don't want to pay to bug-test a new product, give Amazon at least a month and a half to exterminate the biggest ones in this device.

Despite the number of cons that have piled up in this review, I still believe the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a good value, especially for Amazon Prime subscribers. If you don't think you'll use all the features that the pricier Amazon Fire TV delivers, don't spend the extra money to buy it. But Amazon has some cleanup to do before I can call this stick a clear winner.


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